A spectacular injury-time equalizer from Stuart Holden saved the US’ blushes as they drew 2-2 with Haiti on Saturday to clinch a quarter final berth in the Gold Cup.
The result left the US top of Group B with seven points from three games. The draw was also enough for Haiti, on four points, to progress to the quarter finals.
In other Group B action, Honduras thrashed Grenada 4-0 to finish second and advance to the last eight.
Haiti looked to have pulled off the first major upset of the tournament after two goals inside the first five minutes of the second half put them 2-1 up.
The US took the lead in the sixth minute when Scottish-born Houston Dynamo midfielder Holden threaded a delightful pass to Kansas City Wizards midfielder Davy Arnaud who finished confidently with a left-foot strike.
Holden was then denied by the under-side of the cross-bar after launching a thundering drive from 30m out.
But the game was transformed just a minute after the break when Vaniel Sirin squared the ledger with a diving header at the back post after accepting a fine cross from forward Leonel Saint-Preux, who plays in the US for Minnesota Thunder. Three minutes later, a rocketing strike by Mones Chery from more than 25m whistled past Luis Robles in the US goal.
The US, fielding a weaker side than the team that reached the final of the Confederations Cup, struggled to break down Haiti’s defense until Holden produced another rocket which flew into the top corner of the net.
First half goals from Walter Martinez and Roger Espinoza gave Honduras a comfortable 2-0 lead over Grenada, before Melvin Valladares and Carlos Costly sealed the win after the break.
The victory gave Honduras second place in Group B and earned the Central Americans a quarter-final showdown with Canada.
The top two teams in each of the three groups go through to the quarter-final stage of the competition along with the two best third-placed teams.